Sloan Foundation grant awarded to Dr. Rafael Santos

Posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

Headshot of Dr. Rafael Santos
Dr. Rafael Santos

Dr. Rafael Santos, associate professor in the School of Engineering, has been awarded a $55,000 research grant for the second time from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. This year’s grant will fund his project titled, "Triple-intensified process for direct carbon-negative methanol synthesis from biogas". The Sloan Foundation is dedicated to supporting novel research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economics.

Partnering with two American based researchers Dr. Simona Liguori, at Clarkson University and Dr. Anindita Das, at South Methodist University, the team is working to turn the production of biogas in rural areas of North America from a carbon-neutral process to a carbon-negative process. The project will develop a triple-intensified (TTT) membrane reactor to simultaneously convert biogas to hydrogen and CO2 and then to methanol and steam. It is hoped the project will demonstrate that the TTT process leads to lower operating temperatures and pressures, higher yields and lower capital expenses.

Santos’ team, including a postdoctoral fellow and summer undergraduate student, will oversee three modeling techniques to assess the negative-carbon footprint of the TTT membrane reactor process.

Santos sees the research potential as transformative for “the agricultural sector and rural communities to gain new opportunities for revenue and waste management.” Additional benefits of the TTT membrane reactor design can also be extended to other chemical syntheses. This could bring “process intensification closer to its quantum-leap goals for green chemical engineering,” says Santos.

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